Saturday, August 15, 2015
Where Are You Going and Why? STOP!
Sister Joan Continued...
THE PRODUCTIVITY OF REST AND RECREATION
The nice thing about the human body is that it wears out. It wears down. It can, as the Rule of Benedict says in chapter 64, be “overdriven.” To be more precise, the Rule is talking about the abbot or prioress in the chapter when it says, “They must so arrange everything that the strong have something to yearn for and the weak nothing to run from.” The point is clear: Good leadership does not ask more of the worker than the worker is capable of doing. Whatever happened to that kind of wisdom? And how much further can we possibly go unless we rediscover the value of such an insight? The really interesting aspect of such an ancient directive is that it was written in the sixth century, before lightbulbs, before humanity could do little or anything about extending the day into the night and veritably erasing the difference between the two. In those days, when the sun went down, people went to bed. “Make hay while the sun shines,” the farmers said— and for good reason— since there was surely no way to make it otherwise. Days were measured from sunup to sundown. They were not divided into shifts. Darkness covered the earth and with it came silence, and rest, and recuperation time in preparation for the day to come. It was a far cry from a world in which the Internet links the ends of the earth twenty-four hours a day.
Before the Industrial Revolution engines did not continue to pound out bottle caps long after most workers went home for supper. Trucks did not race on in a mad dash to link the world’s cities so that packages of widgets would be delivered in twenty-four hours and modernity could triumph. The writing did not go on late into the night. The offices did not stay open. The problem solving did not continue. The schoolwork did not begin after the parties ended. Yesterday’s work did not get done in the middle of the night so that tomorrow’s work could start again in five more hours. And human beings were not taking sedatives to cope with stress or drugs to calm down. The medical community was not warning people about the effects of sleep deprivation. And surgeons were not beginning another operation at the end of an eighteen-hour day.
We drive ourselves relentlessly from one exhaustion to another. We pace our societies by the pace of our computers. We conduct the major relationships of our lives— both professional and personal— according to the speed of our communications. We measure ourselves by the amount of our productivity and every day we become more exhausted, less rested in body, spirit and mind, and so less capable of producing things, let alone of developing relationships, as a result. That’s not irony, that’s tragedy. And though we know it, we do not know what to do about it. Now the question is a simple one: Are the ancient insights only that: ancient? Or are they wisdom because they have been carried down to every generation and found to be true?
Chittister, Joan (2015-02-24). Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life (pp. 72-73). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Don't Give Your Soul To An Institution!